Sir Edward Coke, an English jurist, Member of Parliament, and writer is given credit for the following quotation: "For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]."
Growing up as a child and teenager, I never actually lived in a family “house.” My parents initially operated a grocery store and butcher shop in Philadelphia, and we lived above the store. When they purchased a hotel in Wildwood in the early 1960’s, we inhabited two rooms during the summer months that were considered our “living quarters.” During the various winters, we rented a modest bungalow and/or lived in an apartment building. When we built our motel in 1977, we again had a small section of the building designated as “living quarters.”
By eighteen years old, I was off to the seminary and occupied various dormitory rooms for the next eight years. At one point I was even the top bunk (of two bunk beds) at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. As a priest, the usual living arrangements are generally a suite of rooms: bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. (When I return home to see my mom, she lives in a two-bedroom condominium.)
So, technically speaking, I have never actually lived in a family “house.”
I guess that’s why I truly attempt to make the rectory where I live my “home,” no matter how long I am going to be there. So if you see me painting, fixing, remodeling or cleaning the rectory, it’s because I consider it my home, my castle, so-to speak, and I take pride in it.
I do realize, however, that no matter where I live here on this earth it is only temporary and that my true home (and ultimate desire) is supposed to be heaven:
“For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. “ (2 Cor. 5:1)
This being said, I try to be a good steward of the property entrusted to me and it is my personal philosophy that when I eventually leave a place, it should be in better condition than how I found it.
Having lived in and with various businesses almost all of my life, I am also of the strong opinion that the church offices should not be in the same building in which the priests reside. To me, it provides for more peace of mind (and mental health) when there is the sanctity of a home (rectory) to return to each day.
Whether by circumstance or by design, I’m glad that this was already in place at St. Joseph's before I arrived.
You are certainly welcome to visit our castle at any time—just be aware of the drawbridge when it is up since the man-eating alligators in the moat are usually hungry!
Fr. Ed Namiotka